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 Justine's Journal

CackleTV Productions


The Runt did good
Sunday, September 27, 2009

Happy belated birthday to my family dog, Monty!!

I remember 16 years ago when Monty was born that he was the runt of the puppies with dodgy hips and other problems. We chose to keep him because we couldn't sell him. A huge long doggy life later, our lovely Monty has out-survived all his brothers and sisters and is being spoilt with cake by my mum in Jersey. Good on ya Monty ( and mum)! I haven't seen Monty for a while and hope to get home to give him a big hug later this year.

On another note, Barry and I are off to Sicily for a seakayaking symposium on Wednesday. We're teaching some classes and then joining in with a 4 day paddle around some beautiful volcanic islands.

I have also fairly recently put up more video clips on YouTube. CackleTV has it's own Youtube channel, which you can check out here. Most of the clips are already on my website, but I've moved them to Youtube. However there are a few new ones, and I'll be adding some more. Derrick and I are working on an update of the website, which hopefully will be live before too too long!!

Ray Goodwin filming
Thursday, September 24, 2009

I spent the last 2 days filming with Ray Goodwin, a level 5 coach in Canoeing, river kayaking and sea kayaking, and a very fine paddler and person! On Tuesday we went canoe sailing on a brisk wind on Bala lake. Ray rigged up a big sail on 2 rafted canoes. I did my best to make it more interesting for them by crawling up to the bow of one of the canoes. Apparently the front of the canoe was worryingly close to the bulging bow wave, but we survived it! Thanks a lot to the Glan Llyn outdoor centre for helping us out and lending us a RIB for safety and filming.

Yesterday we visited the river Dee at Llangollen and Ray showed off his slick moves with a bit of surfing, maneuvering and poling. He loves the fluidity and quality of movement in a canoe. He's a brave man as he again allowed me to flail around in the bow of his canoe with a camera while he surfed the bottom wave! Or perhaps I'm a brave camerawoman?

The real star of the show was actually not Ray, but his trusty dog Dillie! Dillie faithfully - even eagerly - sits in the bow of Ray's canoe while he floats, carves into micro-eddies, or surfs waves. I'm assured she is the ultimate test of the difficulty of a rapid - if it's straighforward she remains at the front, if it's slightly harder then she sits down in the middle. For those "Are you sure you should be doing this?" rapids, she cowers behind Ray!

At the end of the day Ray lent me one of his boats and gave me a few tips on running the lower waves and drops on the river, so thanks Ray!

Today, I'm back in my office with piles of tapes and memory sticks, wondering where to start with all the editing!

THANKS TO PAUL FULBROOK FOR THIS PHOTO OF ME FROM THE SCOTTISH SYMPOSIUM, Thanks to RAY for the photo of him and Dillie - I was too busy filming to take any pictures yesterday!

Scottish Canoe Symposium 2009
Monday, September 21, 2009

I had great fun at the Scottish canoe symposium at Glenmore Lodge last weekend. It was good to be a student, taking classes and trying to get some good habits before the bad habits start to set in too much! I enjoyed having a fairly steep learning curve and picking up new tips and tricks.

I was paddling solo whitewater for the first time, and I paddled 2 different sections of the river Spey - from Loch Insh down to Aviemore, and from Knockando downstream about 6km. It was great fun on grade 1 and 2 water. I found it easier to control the canoe ( to some extent!) than I had thought I would.

About 70 people attended the symposium and it was fun to chat to a different crowd of paddlers and learn more about canoeing. On Saturday night I showed about 25 minutes of video from my upcoming canoeing DVD, which seemed to go down well! I still don't have a name for the DVD though.... ideas very welcome!

Thanks to Venture Canoes for lending me a canoe for the symposium. I wasn't sure they'd lend me one of Sunday after I showed the video of Barry and I pinning my canoe on the Rannoch Moor crossing, so thanks a lot for having faith!

There are a few more pics on the Stirling Canoes Blog here.

I'm back home in Wales and tomorrow I'm filming with Ray Goodwin doing some strong wind sailing on Bala Lake!

Rannoch Moor crossing
Friday, September 18, 2009

Crossing Rannoch Moor is one of the classic Scottish canoe journeys, which can form part of a crossing of the whole of Scotland from West to east. I wanted to film this varied journey for my upcoming canoeing DVD, and experienced and talented canoeists Dave Rossetter and Scott Simon volunteered to take me and Barry across the moor ( in reality looking after us as much as they were being filmed on the adventure). We only had 3 days so Dave very wisely decided that we’d start at the highest point and let gravity help us eastwards. Other people start at the sea and have a gruelling 6km carry uphill before they can float on water! We met at Loch Ba at 9am on Monday, to be greeted by a thick mist and a thicker swarm of Scottish midges. Dave and Scott politely kept quiet about how long it took Barry and I to sort out our gear for the 3 day trip and patiently kept swatting. By 10am we were as organised as we were going to be and after a short drag across the heather we were afloat.
The midges and the sound of the busy road were soon left behind, and we were alone on a mirror calm loch, weaving our way between tiny tree-covered islands. How very peaceful. After a few kilometres we reached the start of the first river, and the first whitewater section of the trip. To novice canoeists like Barry and I, the river looked really rocky and shallow, and surely impossible to paddle down? We were certainly nervous about how we’d avoid all the rocks. Dave and Scott showed us how it was done –there was one rock which acted like a magnet for both their bows, but they did a very slick job of weaving between all the others and lining themselves up to slide down the tongue over a couple of ledges. Barry and I started off well, but parked ourselves on a couple of rocks lower down and had to get out and pull the canoe off. It was great fun though, and we did really well on grade 2/3 rapids considering it was only the second time Barry and I have been in a tandem canoe in whitewater.
A few exciting hours later, we reached another loch. The sun won it’s battle with the mist and the impressive peaks of Glencoe came into view around us. What a glorious day. Another grade 2 river flowed from the end of the loch which Barry and I survived! We made camp on a peninsula at the start of the next loch, in a vain attempt to find a breeze to keep the midges away. It looked like the plan had worked for about half an hour, but as we started to cook, they found us, letting us know wherever we had an exposed millimetre of flesh. We all hid in our tents to eat! The weather remained good for the final 2 days, which were full of pretty lochs, grade 2/3 rivers, and a couple of short portages around dams and weirs. Barry and I were really glad we’d borrowed a trolley from Surflines as it made the carry so much easier. Poor Scott’s trolley had a flat tyre and was designed for a seakayak so it didn’t work very well and he ended up carrying his canoe the old fashioned way.

The rivers gained in volume as we got lower and on the pushier sections we had to line the canoes down some of the grade 3 rapids. It was really interesting to see how that worked. Dave and Scott tried to sail across the bigger lochs but dare I say it, the weather was too good and we had to paddle the entire 15 km length of Loch Rannoch.
The last morning saw the biggest excitement as Barry and I completely messed up the very first rapid of the day. We were trying to sneak left on a grade 3 set of drops but got our canoe pinned at the first hurdle. The bow was stuck on the rock and the stern was stuck on a bit of tree stump. The whole canoe was stuck in the flow of water and buckled really worryingly. I thought the canoe was a gonner but fortunately Scott and Dave took a small saw out of their emergency kit and cut through the tree. Within 5 minutes they freed the boat. The damage was 2 buckled gunnels and broken fittings on one of the seats (and a bit of a bruised ego for me). I think we were pretty lucky. And as Scott pointed out, at least I was filming it so it’s a good story line!

I’m now at Glenmore Lodge for the Scottish Open Boat symposium which starts tonight with whiskey tasting! That might not help my learning process at the sessions tomorrow!! I'll be showing about 20 minutes of video from the upcoming canoeing DVD on Saturday night, which I hope will go down well!

Thanks very much to Dave and Scott for making such a fun trip possible and for keeping us ( or getting us) out of trouble! Dave is a level 5 kayak coach and aspirant level5 canoe coach and is available for coaching and guiding through his company Standing Waves. Scott is a level 5 canoe coach based out of Wales who is relocating to Scotland in October and will be available for coaching/ guiding from then.

Bardsey in the sun!
Saturday, September 12, 2009

Summer is finally here and we had a wonderful day today paddling to one of our favourite destinations, Bardsey island. We were in short sleeves and sunglasses and had a great picnic on the grass, followed by an always pleasurable visit to our friends the Porter family, the local farmers. I was trying out the Rockpool Alaw Bach, which I found to be very playful and responsive.

Scotland tomorrow for some canoeing action across Ranoch Moor!

Tandem canoe
Thursday, September 10, 2009

Crossing Scotland's Ranoch Moor by canoe is a classic British open boat journey. there's a bit of everything - portaging, lining, sailing, and even paddling! All of it is across beautiful Scottish moorland, and much of the time we'll be miles from roads or civilization. Next week, Barry and I are spending 3 days canoeing from Loch Ba eastwards to somewhere near Loch Tummel. We're joining Dave Rossetter and Scott Simon, both very experienced canoeists. both are BCU level 5 coaches & Dave runs 'Standing Waves', one of Scotland's leading canoe & kayak centres. They are hundreds of times more experienced than us in canoes and we're happy to know we are in good company. I'll be filming the journey for my upcoming canoeing DVD, and hoping we can keep up & keep upright!! The following weekend we'll attend the Scottish open canoe symposium at Glenmore Lodge, where we'll enjoy being students and learning a few things about canoeing. On Saturday night, I'll be showing a preview of some of my canoeing footage from my upcoming DVD.

but....... back to our preparations for all this excitement. Barry and I have only been together in a tandem canoe 3 times so we thought we'd better get a bit of practice before next week. Today we enticed some friends ( who happen to be good canoeists & coaches !) with promises of homemade chocolate cake and a pub meal. But first they had to run down the river Dee with us! Jim and John obliged and we had a great day paddling about 5 or 6 miles down the grade 2/3 river, stopping to play at many of the features. The recent bad weather disappeared leaving us with a wonderful sunny day - who could ask for more?

Sorry the pictures aren't very good quality - I was testing out a video camera which also takes still photos. I now see why it's marketed as a video camera, not a photo camera!!

Thanks to Jim Bradley for a couple of photos of Barry and I surfing a wee wave!

Wind & rain, wind & rain, wind & rain, & Harry!
Friday, September 04, 2009

Harry Whelan came to stay with us for a few days this week, visiting from London with his girlfriend Esperanza. Harry and Barry paddled around Britain together in 2005 ( with Phil Clegg) but don't see each other that often these days so it was good to catch up and go paddling - despite the strong winds and heavy rain that we've been having in Wales for about 2 weeks. We had a fun trip out to the Skerries, and enjoyed seeing about 30 curious seals and plenty of seabirds. Today we ventured to Rhoscolyn and battled into the wind out to the Beacon, before a downwind paddle along the coast, then sneaking back to the beach, sticking close to shore. Harry and Esperanza were in a double and luckily they practiced rolling it before we went out - Esperanza has only been paddling 2 months and she grabbed onto the hull, while Harry rolled it from the back. On our way back to the beach, they got a bit too close to a submerged rock. Suddenly the rock wasn't submerged anymore and a wave was curling over towards the rock. They just managed to paddle out over the wave, but it capsized them in a really bad place. Fortunately Esperanza grabbed the bow ( and her paddle) as they'd practiced and Harry rolled the double up again! They wouldn't do it again for me to film!

Barry and I have been trying out some Rockpool kayaks - the longer G.T. and the smaller playful Isel, which were good fun kayaks.

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